"Committed to the restoration of wild Pacific salmon in mid Vancouver
Island watersheds through habitat restoration and community engagement"
"Committed to the restoration of wild Pacific salmon in mid Vancouver
Island watersheds through habitat restoration and community engagement"

An Exciting Season of Smolt Counting Comes to an End

 Just like that song by Andrea Bocelli, it's "Time to Say Goodbye".....to the smolt trap for another year. On May 26, volunteers arrived with electric drills, trucks and a trailer to dismantle and take away the smolt trap that had been installed in Shelly Creek on March 23.

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The past two months have been very eventful, with a mischievious otter stealing fish out of the smolt box for two days, a few lamprey eels (blech!),  and a smart phone that spent a day swimming with the fish at the bottom of the box and kept right on ticking (it even gave the owner a message that moisture was detected....smart). And we had a visit by a reporter from the PQB News. You can view the newspaper article and video here.

This year's Coho smolt count was the best in 5 years. We counted 6963 Coho smolts and fry, and with the approximately 400 that the otter ate, we estimate there were 7363 smolts and fry in the migration out of Shelly Creek into the Englishman River, with the smolts continuing on to the ocean. We also counted the most trout ever for the smolt trap: 296 of which 51 were identified as Cutthroat.

How does this compare to other years?          

YEAR

NUMBER OF SMOLTS

NUMBER OF TROUT

2011

2638

37

2012

8094

42

2013

7265

21

2015

1247

0

2016

4313

60

2017

755

153

2018

7363

296

2017 had very low smolt numbers because an  extremely wet spring caused the creek level to rise high enough to bypass the trap. Depsite the bypass, we still captured the most trout  since the smolt trap count was initiated in 2011. We think the reason for the increase in trout in 2017 and 2018 may be due to the removal of yellow iris (an invasive species) which had taken up a great deal of habitat space in Martindale Pond. With the iris gone, the amount of open water habitat has increased significantly.

Many thanks to our volunteers for making 2018 the best year yet for the smolt trap count!                                                        

Loggers are helping salmonids in Centre Creek

CentreCrSideChannel5What's that you say? Loggers are helping fish in Centre Creek?

In 2014, we had a side channel constructed beside Centre Creek as a safe haven for young salmon and trout  to escape the high, turbulent winter flows of the creek. A few logs were placed across the side channel to provide cover for the fish from predators such as herons, but an inspection of the habitat determined that more cover was required. Unfortunately, there weren't enough logs or large woody debris laying nearby that could be used for this purpose.

 

CentreCrSideChannel4Since the creek flows through Timber West property, we asked if they could cut down a few trees near the side channel (without compromising the riparian zone) and buck them so they could be used for cover. They obliged and on May 4, MVIHES volunteers strategically placed the logs across the channel using a pulley system under the guidance of our biologist, Dave Clough. 

 

 

 

   

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The finished product. Enough for any fry or smolt to feel at home 

   

 

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                                           And a retired logger has atoned for past sins, lol.

Holy smolts, that's a lot of fish!

Wow, 890 Coho smolts in one day! That was the catch one day last week at the smolt trap on Shelly Creek. We're still getting 100 to nearly 300 a day so don't miss out on the action. The migration out of the creek into the Englishman River will probably run for another 3 weeks, so there's still time to participate and help collect important data on the importance of Shelly Creek as a overwintering habitat for salmon smolts. We start at 9 am everyday at the trap on Martindale Rd. Sign up for the days you are available right here: Sign Up.

Don't forget your wellies or chestwaders! 

 

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Beach Seining in the Englishman River Estuary- Part II

theteamOn April 20, ten volunteers under the direction of our Dave Clough completed a beach seining survery of the Englishman River Estuary. You may remember that last year we conducted a similar survey before the dyke was removed by Nature Trust in an effort to restore natural ocean flow into the estuary

 

 

 

 

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We are repeating the survey to see if there have been any changes to the fish species and numbers that use the estuary since the removal of the dyke. We noticed right away that the flounders we were catching were larger than last year, and that we were also catching sand dabs. The other fish were the usual suspects from last year: sculpins, gobis, stickleback and loads of shrimp.

 

 

 

Only one person fell in this time as opposed to six people last year, LOL, so  we're getting better.  We will beach seine again one day in May and one  in June so we can observe changes throughout the season. Come on out and join the fun. We'll announce our next seining event via email.

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The monitoring program is overseen by Peter deKoning (standing on the left in photo), Restoration, Inventory and Monitoring Biologist for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations (FLNRO).  The Nature Trust has a Partnership in Conservation with FLNRO.

2018 Coho Smolt Count

smolttrapCome out and help us count the Coho Salmon smolts as they migrate out of Shelly Creek to the Englishman River.

Every spring, for six weeks, we set up a smolt trap in Shelly Creek to count the number of Coho smolts and fry that overwintered in the creek to escape the turbulent flows of the Englishman River. We usually count several thousand in a season but one year was exceptionally good when we counted over 8000 smolts.  Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout also venture into the trap, along with the occassional frog, salamander and duckling.

The smolt trap is on Martindale Rd where Shelly Creek crosses under the road. We start counting at 9 am every morning and are usually done by 10 am. If you would like to volunteer to count the fish, frogs, salamanders, etc., sign up for the days you are available right here. Sign Up

 

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